Monday, April 30, 2018

I Did My Makeup with Single Use Samples

I have a weird obsession with beauty samples. I don't just mean the deluxe samples that are miniaturized versions of the full price product, although those are my favorites. I mean any kind of sample: foil packets of face cream, whiffs of perfume sprayed on glue and covered with a bit of paper in magazines, cardboard sheets with a swath of blush on name it, I've probably hoarded it. But it's not wise to stockpile samples when you're preparing to move, and since that's my goal this summer, slash, I was feeling a little emotional about walking out of my college for the very last time, I decided to do a Face of the Day using only samples.

There was one minor snafu: the foundation sample I'd gotten from a MAC associate some time last year definitely smelt off. Also, I've yet to see a single use mascara sample. For those reasons, I used products already in my collection for my foundation and mascara. Everything else is from a sample card or sachet.

The above photo shows my starting point: a thin layer of Buxom Some Show Skin foundation mixed with a dot of MAC Strobe Cream, pressed in to my skin with a Beauty Blender. I put my mascara on later.

The first sample I used was the Laura Mercier Flawless Fusion Ultra Longwear Concealer in 1N. I almost always hate the totally flat foundation and concealer samples that include just a dot of product under a sticker because it's never enough to do your face. So imagine my surprise when I tapped my finger in to that little smear of concealer, dabbed it on my undereyes, and immediately realized I'd applied too damn much. Despite being a thin, lightweight formula, this stuff has a surprising amount of coverage; I was able to put a-bit-too-much on my undereyes and soften up my forehead blemish. There was some creasing in my fine lines after an hour or two, but I think that's because I used too much concealer, and it was easily tapped out. I actually taped that stupid sticker down so I could re-use the sample! So far, so good.

Next, I used the Bite Beauty Multistick in Biscotti for blush. Experiencing the texture of these reaffirmed what I said in my anti-haul: they're nice for the cheeks and might work on the eyes in a pinch, but the formula is just too stiff for my lips. You can see that the product actually popped out of its blisterpack, showing that it's drier than it looks.  That said, it blended out decently, and I got a ton of product in that little packet. I'm considering taking one of the other two shades from that sample to Toronto this summer so I don't have to pack as much.

Last, but not least, I applied a little Peter Thomas Roth 24K Gold Pure Luxury Lift and Firm Prism Cream to my cheekbones as a highlight. I've used this product before and I like it just fine, but the color is more golden than I usually go for, and it's certainly not worth the massive price tag. I also think the skincare benefits are overstated, but to be honest, I wouldn't apply something this frosty all over my face, anyway. ("But, Renee, the MAC Strobe Cream"--is not as gold or as frosty; stop pointing out my hypocrisies, dammit.)

Everything's great so far, right? My skin looks good and nothing is performing horribly. This is going to look amazing!

Hold up. This is me. I have to ruin things.

You see, I got a sample of the Anastasia Beverly Hills Dipbrow Pomade. And I've used Dipbrow before and truly enjoyed it. So what's the issue?

Well, my friends, they included a brush with the sample. I applaud the effort, but really, I don't know who is going to actually use this extremely tiny, not-the-best-quality brush to apply such a pigmented product!

Except yes I do, and it's me. I'm the one who said I was going to do as much of my face with samples as I possibly could, and that brush counts as a sample!

Adults get to make choices. I am not proud of this one. Let's move along, because the next thing on the list is actually damn good.

It's the Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion in Sin. Look, I remember when there were YouTube feuds over whether the original Urban Decay primer was better than my standby, Too Faced Shadow Insurance. (UDPP vs. TFSI, anyone?) Frankly, I remember liking them about the same; the only real difference was that I thought the Too Faced had a slightly nicer texture, and that's why I've kept using it. But ooooh, the Sin shade! It's frosty champagne goodness that applies smoothly and looks like eyeshadow. Seriously, if I wanted to pretend I was trying, I could throw this on, add another color to my crease, do some quick liner, and call it a day. Suffice to say that Sin went straight to my Sephora wish list.

 I always have to cut these types of samples open. It sucks. Please stop, beauty companies.

The lipstick was not quite as successful. It's the NARS Powermatte Lip Pigment in the shade Who Fucking Knows, It's Not On The Packaging. I checked the fancy box it was tucked in and the annoying chastity belt of a foil packet that held the applicator, and nothing. I thought it was American Woman, but the shade on my lips is far cooler and more purple than the warm, chestnut-y shade they show on Sephora.

Your guess is as good as mine. As for the formula, it's pretty solid as far as liquid lipsticks go: it's a thin, smooth liquid that's opaque with one layer, it starts drying down within a minute, and it lasted through cookies, spring rolls, and a glass of wine. Yes, that's what I ate for dinner. Again: choices.

It's tempting to say that this was just a funny one-off experiment that went totally awry, but I did learn some things. For starters, I'm way more likely to buy a product if I get several uses out of the sample. The Urban Decay sample provides more than enough primer for the upcoming week, so I taped off the little opening in the packet and put it away in my container. Compare that to the NARS liquid lipstick, which you can't store properly after pulling out the applicator. In that vein, there is clearly some packaging that is less frustrating than others. If I can't reseal it, I toss it, no matter how well the product works. Companies, if you want us to fall in love with your line via samples, you gotta give us some easy-to-open, easy-to-close packaging!

And of course, this proves that samples work. Like I said, I put the Urban Decay primer on my wishlist right away, I'm interested in trying the Laura Mercier concealer more, and while it's not my cup of tea, I'd have no issue recommending the NARS liquid lipsticks based on my experience.

So keep sending us new and improved samples, beauty companies, because we love them and they work! ...but don't let me have any more for now. I can't be stuffing taped-up blister packs of blush in to my luggage.


  1. AHAHAHAHAHA, chastity belt. Dying. On my first read through the sentence with the name of the NARS lipstick, I actually thought that was the name of it. Given some of the dumbass names things have lately, it's not outside the realm of possibility. Anyway, it's too bad we'll never know what you're wearing on your lips, 'cause it looks super good.

    1. I actually don't like it on me! I think it's too cool toned and gray.